Getting the Environment just Right

When you think about occupational therapy jobs – whether they’re full time or locum OT jobs – it could be the case your understanding of what they actually do is a bit foggy. In extremely simple terms, it all comes down to seeing what changes can be made within a service user’s environment to help maximise their independence. In this article, we’ll take a specific look at one of these environments, the home. In many ways this is the most important place for occupational therapy to be effective. As your home is often an extension of your own identity. If an accident or permanent change in your life makes this place feel alien to you, it’s of the utmost importance that occupational therapy can overcome this.

A good thing to remember when it comes to occupational therapy, is that we’re all individuals with our unique problems and circumstances. Occupational therapy isn’t just about finding one therapy that works for all. It comes down to having a specific intuition of understanding a particular individual’s needs and requirements. If these can’t be precisely identified, then there’s no chance of finding a solution. Therefore, a large portion of an occupational therapist job is getting to know the service user themselves and work out what they want to independently be doing.

The home is the most common place for an occupational therapist to make changes to. We spend the majority of our time in our home, and if you’ve had an accident, it is often the case, the time spent at home increases further. Two specific areas in the home that will be looked at by therapists is the kitchen and the bathroom. These are places where restricted mobility can play havoc with a daily routine.

 Some solutions are simple, such as fitting a shower seat into the bathroom. Thus, a service user can still independently have a daily shower, even if they’re no longer able to support themselves on two feet for a long period of time. This can often extend to them needing a stairlift too, which takes a bit longer to fit.

Finally, changes made in the kitchen are often a little more complicated than installing a new seat. A common example of this is the kitchen worktop. If a service user is no longer able to stand, work surfaces need to be lowered throughout the kitchen. This often means restructuring the whole kitchen, and having to get a new oven that is a lower height.

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